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Family claims chest tube put through colon led to man’s death

Oct 10, 2013 | Surgical Errors

It is frightening for any New York City resident to even think about, but the truth of the matter is surgeons can make mistakes while operating on a patient. Depending, these errors can lead to serious medical complications or even death. This means that a once simple surgery — with a high rate of success — can turn into a life or death situation when a surgeon makes a mistake. 

In a recent lawsuit, the family of a 67-year-old man is suing for funeral costs, wrongful death and negligence. This comes after their loved one died nine days after going through surgery. However, the cause of his death does not appear to have anything to do with his heart. Rather, the family claims a surgical error led to his death. 

According to the lawsuit, the man had gone through heart surgery in late September 2011. Just three days after the surgery, he started running into complications with an elevated heart rate. Nurses also noticed something was not right where the incision was made for his heart surgery. 

A later surgical consultation, requested by one of the doctors involved in the heart surgery, found there was a good chance the chest tube has gone through the man’s colon. 

By this point, the family claims, the man was running a rather high temperature and was diagnosed with sepsis. Another surgeon stepped in to perform a colon repair surgery — which is when it was confirmed the chest tube had in fact gone through the man’s colon.

Sadly though, the efforts made were just not enough and the man ended up dying at the age of 67, less than two weeks after his heart surgery. 

The family is now suing two of the doctors, claiming they were negligent in placing the chest tube through his colon and not helping with the colon repair surgery. 

In reading about this case, even thinking about the possibility of organ puncture during surgery is enough to send shivers up the spine. However, the truth is these types of mistakes do happen. And, when these errors happen, the results can be deadly for the patients. 

Source: Courthouse News Service, "Family Claims Surgical Error Was Fatal," Joe Harris, Sept. 23, 2013